"Safe" is a relative term. Each person has their own ideals of safety, their own standards and expectations for how safe they like their environment to be, and in which ways they expect their environment to be safe.
Each country, province, state, city, town, and street has its own standards of safety as well. Some cities are known to be more dangerous than others, and for different reasons. Sometimes the danger stems from crime, sometimes it stems from weather, sometimes it stems from disease; the ways in which safety can be influenced are endless.
Because of the fact that there are so many factors that go into deciding the level of safety in a certain area, there is also an enormous number of ways in which people can help keep their area safe. Not every dangerous thing can be prevented, like bad weather, but measures can be taken to deal with danger before and after it strikes.
New Orleans is a fun-loving city, and what's fun without a little danger? People here like to live on the edge. This is not a bad thing at all; everyone needs some excitement. It just so happens that people in New Orleans seem to like more than just "some" excitement. From parades and festivals to bar crawls and college frat parties, this is a city that likes to party. Partying does come with its fair share of danger. And not to be a Debbie Downer, but it's always best to be aware of the dangers that surround you at all times, even when your mind may be elsewhere—partying.
It goes without saying, especially in a city like New Orleans, that with great partying comes great levels of alcohol consumption. This is not a universal truth, but it's generally true that partying and drinking go hand in hand. A lot of very avoidable dangerous activities come with drinking, so it's always a good idea just to keep your wits about you while partying and possibly drinking in order to avoid these (avoidable) dangers.
There's the notorious idea that in the city of New Orleans, it is legal to drink alcohol in public, provided it is not in a glass container or bottle. This would mean that it's completely legal to drink alcohol out of a plastic bottle or metal can. While this is technically not the case, police officers really don't give much of a damn if you're drinking on the street as long as it's not in a glass bottle. So, you can pretty much go ahead and assume that this is the case, and that it's legal. This unspoken rule is not random. There is an important reason behind it, and mostly because drunk people plus glass equals danger.
If an intoxicated person is walking down a crowded street and drops their plastic water bottle filled with vodka, the worst thing about the scenario is that they may have spilled their vodka, which is, in its own way, often quite a travesty. However, if that same person were to be holding a glass bottle and dropped it, that could be dangerous. It should go without saying that broken glass on a crowded sidewalk or street is far more dangerous than a plastic bottle that can easily be picked back up and thrown away. With that said, even though it may not be a real law written down in the New Orleans penal code, the unspoken rule that allows drinking in public as long as it's not out of a glass container should be followed.
There are far more dangers that come with drinking than just being careful not to break glass on the street. While drinking and/or partying in New Orleans, there are plenty of other measures to take that will ensure the safety of yourself as well as the people around you. While going out, especially to areas new to you, the buddy system is not just for grammar school children. In a city as unpredictable as New Orleans, it's always a good idea to be with someone, especially when your mental presence might be lower than usual due to alcohol.
Another precaution to take while drinking is just to generally be aware of your surroundings. It's easy to forget that you're in a real place when you're drunk in New Orleans, because of how surreal so much of the city is. But just remember that there are other people around you. While they may also be as intoxicated as you are, if not more so, I've heard locals, families, and people in general complain about how annoying people can be while walking drunkenly down the street. We all do it, but always think back to your sober self who felt annoyed while being forced to listen to a group of loud and obnoxious (although admittedly fun) people walking down the street drinking, singing, and yelling.
After harping about the dangers that come with drinking, it's important to realize that there are obviously many other dangers that come with living in any city. There are certain dangers that are essentially unavoidable in a metropolitan setting like the one we have here, and there are also ones that are unique to New Orleans and come with the territory.
These include things like the enormous flying cockroaches that love to sneak into the houses here, the coconuts that threaten to crack you in the head if you're not paying attention during one of the parades come Mardi Gras season, and the gaping potholes that threaten to destroy any bike in one fell swoop.
While drinking brings up a lot of the dangers that come with living in New Orleans, above all, it's important to be aware of your surroundings and to think about how actions affect your own safety and the safety of the people and the environment around you. Always remember that you're in one of the most fun-loving cities in the world, and plan accordingly!